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Turkey Tactics for Late Season Toms

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Turkeys in Wisconsin have been hunted hard for well over a month as we get closer to the end of the spring season. It’s common to go into the woods now and not hear a turkey sound for hours at a time. By late season, it’s hard to find a location where turkeys haven’t been pressured by hunters. The result of this is that many of the toms are now call-shy and super cautious. Hens and gobblers are both less vocal and less excited now that the mating season is coming to an end. I don’t agree with those who now employ a run and gun technique for this time of the year. I believe that taking a more patient approach works best for late season toms.

Another problem during the later part of the season is that a few dominant toms have done most of the breeding and gobbling, while the younger birds that have lost territorial fights often remain quiet for fear of the boss bird. These subordinate toms will come to a call, but often they sneak in quietly. Turkeys also react to other turkeys by totally avoiding them or by skulking through the woods, hoping to find a hen without running into a rival. Turkeys have changed much of their behavior this time of year and hunters must do the same for success. Try some of the following tactics for late season turkeys.

  • Keep your calling to a minimum and try to use calls (maybe a tube call) that you haven’t used much during the early season. Using a call like this helps because the birds are less wary of sounds that they haven’t heard before. Turkeys aren’t doing much calling this time of year, so you shouldn’t either. Try being silent for up to 30 minutes at a time and then repeating your calls.
  • Professional turkey guru, Ray Eye, says that decoys are a must during the late season. When you’re sitting there and not calling much, the decoys give turkeys something to zero in on, especially when you’re set-up in open terrain where they (the decoys) can be seen from a distance.
  • Be patient and try to employ some of the deer hunting tactics that you use in deer season.
  • Make the turkeys look for you. If you’ve done your scouting, you should know where the birds are during the day and try to set up close to them being extremely quiet.
    Make a few quiet calls and sit back against a tree (which should be wider than your shoulders) and relax. He (the tom) heard your calls before and he knows where you are. Be comfortable, patient, sit in one place, and wait for him to come to you. Cluck and yelp softly while scratching some leaves. Turkeys are social and curious and if you don’t seem threatening, they’ll come looking for you.
  • Plan to sit for at least an hour and maybe two. Give the birds plenty of time before getting up. I know some hunters that stay in the same place all morning or afternoon.
  • Try hunting later in the day, after the majority of hunters have left the woods. Gobblers that have spent the beginning of the day with their hens are often alone by later in the afternoon and out looking for company.
  • Drive around and use glass field edges and clearings for birds. If you spot birds, slip into position to call. Then, sit and wait for the birds to come to you instead of charging through the woods looking for the toms.
  • Pattern your birds. Most turkeys have routines that they follow daily. First, they’ll roost near or with their hens for the first few hours of the day. They’ll be hard to call this time of day. But, after they part with the hens, they will visit their strut zones or places where they can be seen, such as open fields and logging roads. They’ll display silently, relying on their fans and drumming to attract hens. Beat the toms to these locations and hopefully you’ll have success.

Follow these tips and techniques for late season gobblers and they should help in bagging a turkey. You have to adjust your style and techniques to fit the season and what worked early in the year usually won’t later in the year. Make the appropriate changes in your hunting approach and you should be in tune with lonely gobblers.

 

   www.garyengbergoutdoors.com

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